The Coronavirus Pandemic: Is Your Organization Ready?
Recent pandemics, such as the Ebola virus, bird flu and others, have revealed many vulnerabilities in our ability to prepare for the effects of a large-scale pandemic. When epidemics begin overseas, as the coronavirus has, we watch it with a detached, “hope it doesn’t get here” mentality.
China’s attempt to lock down the travel of 11 million people to contain a virus that has already killed nearly 1,000 (as of this writing) and sickened thousands has only been partially successful.
Cases have already been reported outside of mainland China, including in the U.S. No doubt many more are coming.
The situation with the new coronavirus, officially known as 2019-nCoV, is rapidly changing. Things are so fast-moving that it may already be out of date. But, as with any pandemic, there are three key strategies to mitigate threats to personnel, security and operations:
- Stay informed
- Develop a plan
- Prepare for contingencies
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is confirming new cases of this sometimes-deadly respiratory disease almost daily. As this is being written, the CDC has told travelers to avoid all nonessential travel to China, while monitoring possible coronavirus cases in 26 U.S. states.
We recommend monitoring authoritative sources, such as the CDC and other government health agencies. Please do not give credence to unknown sources on social media, which can spread disinformation and panic.
Plan and Prepare
Some actions are obvious: curtail all corporate travel to areas where cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed, and urge employees to take the same medical and health precautions they would to guard against the flu or any serious, contagious disease.
Beyond that, make plans that you’ll hopefully never have to implement, including:
- Develop policies and operations to screen and identify potentially infected individuals before they enter your building, campus or area.
- Prepare contingency plans in case key personnel are sick and unavailable, such as cross-training other employees.
- Prepare contingency plans to ensure the continuation of key operations, such as cross-training or moving resources.
- Educate employees about the symptoms of the coronavirus.
- Ensure that possibly sick employees stay home to lower the risk of infecting others.
If your organization already has existing security or business continuity plans, review and update them as new information about the coronavirus and its spread develops. Even plans that were developed just a few years ago may no longer be up to date. We know more about the spread of disease than we did before. We also have new security and access-control technology available.
Whether security is provided in-house or by an outside partner, make sure there’s a plan to backfill personnel and support operations in the event of widespread absences.
At Sunstates, the foundation of our business continuity plan is the Sunstates Mutual Aid Rapid Response Team (SMARRT) program. Specially trained and equipped team members are ready to fill any personnel gaps and provide security at any client’s site at a moment’s notice.
One final note: It’s better to have spent time and resources training for a pandemic that doesn’t happen than being caught unprepared by one that does.
Sunstates Security has been helping clients create customized emergency and business continuity plans since 1998, including pandemic contingencies. Contact us today to find out how we can help you.